Shelter

Another TBT to last July in the Sisters Wilderness of Central Oregon.

My fantastic shelter, a Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline. This was the only shelter for Goddess and I during our 2015 PCT thru-hike. In 2017 it was my shelter during three weeks of trail maintenance on the PCT.*

For those of you who have kept track, it has been used and abused for well over 200 nights, packed for close to 3,000 miles.

One of these days, we’ll be sad to see it go. But it will be replaced with another of Gen Shimizu’s hand-crafted ultralight tents.

I was glad to capture the sun setting behind the tent this particular evening. A few days later, I would be diving into it quickly after dinner, glad for the protection from Oregon’s Air Force, the gazillion mosquitoes that would be plastered against the screen, hoping for a meal.

And while we are enjoying everything that this winter has to offer, looking at these pics has me looking forward to summer. But just a little bit. There’s still plenty of winter to enjoy.

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* full disclosure for those relatively new here – Yama Mountain Gear sponsored us during our PCT thru-hike, providing not only the tent pictured, but arranging for other gear and mentoring to help us succeed. We did. We have been under no obligation to continue discussing the products after 2015, but continue to do so because we truly believe that Gen crafts truly great lightweight and ultralight tents, as well as other gear..

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Middle Sunset

A TBT to last July, when I hiked back into the Sisters Wilderness of Central Oregon, relaxed by myself for night, then hiked back out to meet a trail crew, just to return to the same spot for a week.

This was the view from my tent site. Really not a bad way to spend summer evenings.

Trail Summer

Hello everyone! It’s time to dust this thing off before we get into the woods.

This week was our opportunity to help the local Washington Trails Association chapter fix some erosion and drainage issues on a trail. The hope was for the trail to endure many more seasons before we would have to touch it up. Locally, we had a long, hard winter. Two months of record-setting rainfall served as bookends to a winter of top-5 recorded snowfall. That meant five months of moisture running across this trail, quickly built last fall to replace a social trail following an old lumber skid road that went straight up the hill.

Here’s Goddess repairing the back slope after the rain and snow melt pushed dirt down and across the trail. That narrows the trail, which leads to other problems later. So it’s best to clear the dirt and keep the trail wide.

Two days later I was back, finishing some drainage issues that I couldn’t finish the other day, then helped reroute more of the trail to give it better drainage. To be sure, the building of new trail is significantly harder than repairing existing trail. One tree is still upright in the middle of the new tread, closely guarding its roots from our digging, prying, and cutting. But the next crew will clear it, I have no doubt.

So this week was a great opportunity to dust off the cobwebs and get the brain rethinking how gravity works and water flows. All in all, a good warm-up to a summer of trail work throughout the region.

White Sands Moonset

We’ve been quite busy here at the homestead.

But not so busy that I couldn’t chisel out some time to catch opening day, a powder day, at one of the local ski resorts. Less than an hour, door to door. A brilliant day of rediscovering my boarding legs for the season.

This isn’t a picture of that day.

Moonset, White Sands National Monument

Hopefully the last weeks of autumn (for those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere) are treating you well.

Joshua Tree Cinema

Panamint Range, Inyo County, California

Moments after this, a pair of US Navy F-18 jets flew just a couple of hundred feet above us, banking hard enough that we could see the pilots in the cockpits.  We couldn’t hear, nor see them coming, although the first one gave it away.

Playing with a cinematic crop, which gives these landscapes quite a different look, a depth that the regular frame doesn’t provide.

Gimmicky?

Perhaps.

But still fun.

Pilot Cumulus

A flashback to a day last spring.

Goddess and I were sitting with a friend on a bluff overlooking the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon, watching the rain showers roll past.

There are five climbers silhouetted on the summit of Pilot Rock that are only visible in the original image.  Discovering them made me smile, thinking of another day a couple of years ago where we made that same climb with friends.

Packing

The packing continues.

We got the entire house packed, cleaned and handed over the other day. We wanted to spend yesterday napping, but there is still plenty to do.

It doesn’t help that, thanks to a shipping snafu, that we are still waiting on delivery of about 120 meals worth of dehydrated vegetables and protein.

Here’s our hotel room right now. I suspect the housekeeping staff is shaking their heads every time they walk past the open door.

image

It’s a last minute sanity check, as we have realized that some important items are now somewhere in the storage unit. No show-stoppers, but things we will need to find (not likely right now) or replace.

Once this is done, on to the last minute packing of meals as tracking tells us that the food shipment is in town as of yesterday, but apparently too far from the mailbox to pick up.

The adventure begins and continues.

Whale Shark

Our home for the summer received a quality control shakedown after being created this week.

Gen Shimizu, the genius behind Yama Mountain Gear, posted a pic and asked if it looked like a shark.

It does.  A Whale Shark.

Does anyone else see a shark? #yamamountaingear #swiftlinetent

A post shared by YAMA Mountain Gear (@yamamountaingear) on

At 36.5oz actual weight, I’ll barely notice it in my pack.  But we will both enjoy this Yama Mountain Gear Swiftline 2-person tent on those wet and windy nights.

 

PCT – Trail Maintenance

In case you weren’t out traveling earlier this month and missed getting a copy of USA Today slid under your room door, there was an interesting article on the state of the National Forest Trail system, which is pretty dismal.

Here’s the article.

One thing you’ll notice in the article is the increasing reliance on volunteers to maintain the trails.

We’re eager volunteers.  Personally, I enjoy the excuse to get out into the wilderness and do some work.  The crew members are great and everyone’s excited to be there to work.

Plus, for me it’s a chance to see new areas and scout out where I’d like to return to shoot photos.  Like this one.

For me, it’s a win-win.

As much as we’d like for the work to get done on its own, just through the love and dedication of the volunteers, it can’t.  For many of the volunteers, they sure wish it could, but it can’t.

So please consider donating to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), the non-profit organization responsible for the trail-work coordination and execution, as well as the protection of the trail corridor.

The PCTA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, meaning that your donation may be tax deductible on your taxes next year (sorry, if you were looking for an angle on the forms you’re doing now, that ship sailed two months ago).

We are 1/4th of the way to our goal!  Would you please help maintain the trail that Jennifer and I will be walking this year?  Your help will ensure that the trail is available for hikers in the future too.

Please click on the picture of Jennifer and Skinny on the PCT below to lend a hand.

Thank you,

Bill & Jennifer Anders

Jen n Skinny Deadfall

 

 

 

PCT Pacing

In the last post covering PCT Planning, I mentioned a 20 mile-per-day (mpd) average needed for us to get to Canada by the end of September.  Hopefully before the snow starts falling.

Twenty miles a day?  Walking?  On purpose?

Gotcha.

But remember, that’s the average.  Half of the hike will be below, half will be above.

We’re going to stick with the ultra-marathon mantra of “start out slow, throttle back”.  In other words, we intend on being tortoises.

We’ll start our hike about 10 days earlier than the traditional start of the PCT hiking season, which coincides with an event called the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off (ADZPCTKO).  The ADZPCTKO is, in a nutshell, a camping weekend where hikers can meet other hikers, get advice on their equipment, buy what they need and get the latest trail, water and snow conditions for the trail before they head out.

[I actually typed “buy what they don’t need”.  Freudian slip, anyone?]

The location of the ADZPCTKO is the Lake Morena campground at PCT mile 20.  A lot of folks will do that 20 miles in their first day.

Goddess and I will not.

We’ll take two days to get to that campsite, a week before the masses.  We’ll keep moving at a 10 mpd average pace for the next couple of weeks.

There are downsides to moving so slowly.  We’ll have to carry more water between watering holes (literally) in the desert.  We’ll have to carry more food between resupply points.  But we’ll be giving our feet and our bodies frequent breaks during the day, giving everything a chance to settle into the task.

A typical day early in the hike might look like this – wake up early and get on the trail around sunrise.  Walk for a couple of hours until mid- to late-morning when it starts to get hot (it will be the desert, y’know).  Find or create shade, have lunch, take a siesta and wait until late afternoon.  Then get a couple of more hours on the trail in the late afternoon/early evening before setting up camp for the night.

A lot of folks will try to get in 20 mile days, day after day, right from the start.  Some of those will soon start to deal with incessant blisters and/or bio-mechanical issues.  Quite a few of those will stop at Warner Springs, just 110 miles into the hike, deal with their injuries and never continue.

That’s not something we want to experience.

We’ll get to Warner Springs as the ADZPCTKO is in full-swing and we’ll likely continue north.  Although we’re still discussing the possibility of hitching a ride back down to the event.  We’ll have time.

If we continue along the trail, the fast hikers will catch up to us within a few days.  Soon the trickle of hikers will become a steady stream as the faster ones catch and pass us.

But we still won’t be in a hurry.

By the time we get to Kennedy Meadows, the traditional start of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we’ll be up to a whopping 12 mpd average.  And we’ll still get to Kennedy Meadows about a week earlier than the traditional 15 June date.  In a typical year, departing Kennedy Meadows earlier than 15 June means dealing with a lot of snow at elevation, while departing Kennedy Meadows after 15 June means an easier time as the snow melts quickly.

Mind you, that average takes into consideration days off.  In thru-hiker parlance, a day off is a “Zero Day”, meaning no miles are hiked.  Often taken in a town, a zero day can also be taken on the trail, but that requires additional food and water for that segment of the trail.

Another option is what is called a “Nearo Day”.  Instead of no miles hiked, a hiker can camp a few miles outside of a town, wake up, hike into town and take care of whatever resupply and other chores are required, then hike out of town a few miles to camp for the night.

The advantage to a Nearo is not paying for a hotel room.  Handy when you’re trying to save money on the trail, but not so much if it has been 7-10 days (or more) since the last shower or hiker bath in a large body of water.  Even your fellow hikers might start to say something about that.

So while the average is 12 mpd, we’ll slowly build up our daily pace to accommodate those off and shorter days.

The next 400 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains will be slow going as we have to work over several high elevation passes and across streams swollen with snow melt.  After that, it’s time to get serious about making miles.

Through Northern California and Oregon, it’s likely that we’ll be covering 25 mpd, many days covering 30+ miles.  It sounds like a lot, but when you consider that by the time we enter Northern California we’ll have had over 1,100 miles in our legs over three months, we’ll be up to the task.

Not to mention time.  We’ll enter Northern California in early July, a few weeks after the summer solstice.  The days will be long (~15 hours of daylight).  We’ll be comfortably walking 12-14 hours each day at a slower than normal walking pace of 2.5 mph.  That gets us over 30 miles each day if we want or need to push that hard.

Once we get into Washington, the terrain becomes a bit more demanding again and our daily pace will slow down a bit.  But at that point, we’re five months into our long walk and have the finish in our grasp.  Excitement and motivation will help overcome any terrain and weather (rain) that we have to deal with.

And that, in a nutshell, is how we average 20 miles per day on this long walk.

But that sure is a lot of words.  Perhaps this will help with the understanding of the motivation: